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Art Buying 101: Tips for Confidently Purchasing from Emerging Artists and Why You Should

Investing in art can be a great way to combine your love of the arts with a hedge against inflation. Art is a unique asset class with a low correlation to stocks, bonds and other traditional investments. When stock prices dip, art tends to hold its value. For investors looking to preserve their wealth during a volatile economy, art can also act as a hedge against inflation.

That all makes sense for buying a work from one of the master's for the 1%, but what can it do for the rest of the world of art lovers who want to ensure they aren't overpaying for a piece of art from an emerging artist or say, an artist selling at an art festival?

#1 - Investing in an Emerging Artist

Buying art from an emerging artist can be a great way to support the development of the arts, culture and other forms of creative expression while also generating financial returns. But how to be sure you of the financial return part? The short answer is you can't. However, buying a piece of art from a relative unknown probably means you love the work! So, if you love the work, it is probably going to live on your wall for a long time. My only advice is to ensure the piece will last for that long time, make sure the piece you are buying was created with professional art or museum quality materials. Also, ask the artist about their finishing techniques and any recommendations on caring for your piece once you get it home. An emerging artist, just as one more established should understand how to make their pieces archival. Look out for cheap looking canvases, cracking paint, or fake loose fitting stapled prints attempted to be passed off as an original painting.

#2 - Buying a piece from an Art Festival

Just like investing in an emerging artist buying original art from an art festival can be a great way to support the development of the arts, culture and other forms of creative expression while also generating financial returns. Art festivals provide a unique opportunity to view and purchase original artwork that you may not be able to find anywhere else. You can also view the pieces and ask the artist about their process. You can look into the quality of the materials and ask the artist about whether they varnish or have some other way of finishing the piece.

#3 - The Value of Artists only Selling in the Galleries

Artists who only sell their work through galleries can benefit from the gallery’s marketing and sales efforts, which can help increase the artist’s exposure and reputation. But what does that mean for the value the buyer can receive? Galleries typically charge a commission on sales, which can range from 30% to 50% of the sale price. This commission can be a significant expense for artists, especially emerging artists who are just starting out. They therefore have little choice but to charge more than they would otherwise. Additionally, galleries may have strict requirements for the type of work they will exhibit, which can limit the artist’s creative freedom. Artists may be creating something less than they normally might in order to stay marketable to the galleries. The value for artists only selling their art this way has its benefits as well as drawbacks, it definitely was something I did not enjoy.

#4 - Buying Art Online, How Risky is it?

Buying art online can be a safe and practical process if done correctly. However, there are some potential risks associated with buying art online. One of the biggest concerns is not being able to inspect the work in person. Social media can be a great tool to help you check out what other collectors are saying about the artist's work and to see video representations, especially if an artist is too new to have lengthy reviews to check. Another concern is the authenticity of the artwork. As a buyer, one of your top concerns is getting what you pay for. As a collector, having legitimate artworks is imperative to your collection. To ensure the authenticity of the artwork, ask for a Certificate of Authenticity.

#5 - Buying Art on an Online Marketplace.

There are many online marketplaces that specialize in selling art, such as Etsy, Fine Art America, and Society6. These platforms provide a built-in audience and marketing tools to promote an artist's work. An artist can also use social media, streaming, membership, and website building platforms to promote and sell their art. Many say this is the great equalizer in selling art and that the gallery world is inevitably doomed because of the internet. While the internet has disrupted the traditional gallery system, it has also created new opportunities for artists and collectors. The internet has made it easier for artists to promote and sell their work online, and for collectors to discover and purchase art from around the world. Perhaps galleries can still play an important role but only time will tell.

Buying art can be intimidating, especially if you are a new art collector. Art collecting is a hobby for some and an investment for others. Either way, the love and enthusiasm for art is relatively the same, just probably at different levels of knowledge. But this shouldn't be in anyone's way to stop them from buying and collecting what they genuinely love. 

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